What’s keeping business technology leaders from really getting ahead in the digital game?
A new survey of 200 CIOs sponsored by Brocade suggests it’s legacy systems and the network. In particular, the survey suggests, they are “distracted by the business of keeping the lights on.” More than half spend the bulk of their days dealing with downtime and availability issues.
As you can imagine, constantly fighting fires means precious little time (or energy or remaining brainpower for that matter) to focus on bringing transformation and innovation to the business.
This is an issue I’ve heard consistently over the years, one that only keeps growing in intensity as systems become more sophisticated and complex. For a while, it looked as though cloud computing might offer some respite from the maintenance aspects of IT management. What seems to be happening, however, is that cloud-based systems are being interwoven with on-premises systems, or are being subscribed to by various players across enterprises in a haphazard style. Not only do IT managers need to worry about keeping the lights on, but also need to worry about others keeping their lights on as well.
At the same time, businesses are demanding new applications and capabilities. The survey also found eight in 10 CIOs were worried about how they were going to deliver new services, and a similar number would like to do a better job of supporting data analytics efforts.
This certainly is being felt in the insurance industry, as insurers develop new rating strategies based on telematics, or look to mine their customer data a little deeper, to be in a positon to better understand lifecycle requirements. At the same time, many policyholders’ data remain locked away in mainframe systems.
The Brocade survey didn’t offer solutions, but it’s worth keeping in mind that the issues holding back technology leaders aren’t necessarily technical. Rather, they focus on the need to better reinforce and increase the resources needed to grow with the business. For many IT managers, the mandate goes something like this: “We want to expend our digital footprint across the enterprise, we want it to be more secure, and we need you to be more responsive to user problems. And by the way, you need to do all this with last year’s budget.”
The CIO or IT leader in today’s insurance operation needs the same level of sales and communication skills as the marketing or sales executive. Insurers depend on technology more than anything else to initiate new products or reach their markets in a deeper way. The urgency of this needs to be impressed upon senior management and boards. If a CIO is too busy keeping things patched and running in the server room, the company is going to fall behind.
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